8v8 Co-ed Flag Football Rules

Except as otherwise noted in these rules, Virginia High School League (VHSL) Football rules will be in effect.

ROSTER SIZE & REGULATIONS

Each team shall field eight (8) players, with at least three (3) females at all times. Teams that are not able to field a complete team may play with a minimum of six (6) players with no less than two (2) females. A maximum of two “pick-up” players (one male/one female or two females) will be permitted only when a team does not have enough of its own players present to field a team. Teams are not permitted to use pickup players when sufficient roster players of the same gender are present. A pick-up player is defined as a player on another roster in the same league; because roster checks are not performed in the regular season, true “guest” players are permitted, provided they sign the waiver at www.fxasports.com/guest prior to participation.

The league requires the team captain or a team representative to provide the full name of each pick-up player before they can enter the field. A pick-up player can only play for the same team twice (2) in any league / season. This will eliminate teams illegally “sharing” players.  Any team that does not report their pick up player(s) may have that game result in a forfeit.  In addition, the pick-up player will be in-eligible to play in any other league games that day/night.

Any player that is found to be on 2 rosters in the same league, will not be eligible to participate in any playoff games for that league. FXA Sports also has the authority to suspend and/or expel a player from the league and/or future game(s) at its discretion with no refund of monies for such acts.

It is illegal for a team to have more than eight (8) players on the field of play. Teams with coaches and/or additional players that enter the field of play without entering the game will be penalized for illegal participation.

A team may not have more than sixteen (16) players on the roster.

NO POCKET / FLAG BELT RULE

Due to safety reasons, players cannot wear any article of clothing that contains pockets (shorts, pants, jackets, sweatshirts, hand warmers, etc). If a player wears an article of clothing with pockets, they will not be allowed to wear a flag belt and will be marked down at the spot where the ball was caught. FXA does not permit players to tape their pockets or turn them inside out; only if shorts are “double-lined” where the pocket is concealed inside the lining may a player turn their shorts inside out.

Players may not wear tights, underwear, or thermal undergarments not intended as exterior wear.

If a player (other than the QB) begins the play without a flag belt, the player will be marked down at the spot where the ball was caught. There is no additional penalty because the player has no opportunity to gain additional yardage. If the QB begins a play without a flag belt, they are down as soon as they receive the snap, and loss of down.

FOOTBALL SIZE REQUIREMENTS

For all plays in which a male player receives the snap, the ball used must be a regulation NFHS, NCAA or NFL sized football. Female players receiving the snap may use a women’s or junior sized football. Note: When a female player takes the snap and pitches a smaller ball laterally or behind to a male player, the male player MAY throw the ball.

GAME TIME / PLAY CLOCK

The game will be divided into two 20 minute halves. Each team is allowed two one-minute timeouts per game. Both timeouts may be used in either half. The offensive team will have 35 seconds to snap the ball once the referee has spotted the ball. The official game clock will be maintained by a referee and will run continuously except for time-outs or serious injury–following an injury timeout, the game clock should resume following the ready-for-play whistle. The clock will run continuously the 1st half, and stop during the final 2 minutes of play in the 2nd half for the following occurrences:

  • Incomplete pass
  • Player advancing the ball goes out of bounds
  • First Down
  • Change of possession
  • Either team scores. (The clock will not resume until the opposing team snaps the ball after the PAT attempt. The clock does not run during extra points.)
  • Penalty
  • Declared punt
  • Time Out

**If a team is leading by 17 points or more, the clock will run continuously during the last two minutes of play. In this scenario, the team that is winning will not be allowed to use any timeouts that is has left. **

BEGINNING OF THE GAME

Teams must be lined up on opposite sidelines. Before the start of the game the referee will toss a coin in the presence of both captains, after first designating which captain shall call the toss. The team that wins the coin flip at the start of the game must choose one of the following:

  • Offense
  • Defense
  • To defer the choice of the above options to begin the second half
  • The team that loses the coin flip shall select the direction for the 2nd half.

Play starts from the 10-yard line at the beginning of each half. At the beginning of the second half, the teams will change their direction of play. There will be a maximum ten minute “grace period” before each game. The game will be deemed a forfeit thereafter at the discretion of the Referee.

SNAPPING THE BALL INTO PLAY

Before the ball is snapped into play, the head referee may announce when the line is legally set and play can begin. The QB does not have to wait until the referee makes this announcement, however, the line must be legally set before a snap can occur.

  • To begin each play, the ball must be snapped from the ground to the QB who is lined up at least 5 yards behind the center.
  • The ball can be snapped to any player lined up at least 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage with a verbal or non-verbal command.
  • Silent counts / snaps are legal.
  • Players may shift and change formations prior to the snap of the ball, but all players must be set for 1 second before the snap, or before a player goes in motion
    • One player is allowed in motion at the time the ball is snapped, but cannot be moving towards the line of scrimmage.
    • The player in motion may not receive the snap directly.
  • A snap from center is not required on declared punts. A minimum of four players must be lined up (set) at the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball.

INTENTIONAL GROUNDING

There is no Intentional Grounding rule.

PASSING

All players are eligible to receive a forward pass. During a scrimmage down and before team possession has changed, a forward pass may be thrown provided some part of the passers body remains behind the line of scrimmage.

The offense may make one (1) forward pass from in or behind the neutral zone. Once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage (run or pass), all subsequent forward passes during that down, are illegal.

CATCH

A player must have one (1) foot in bounds for a legal catch.

SPOT OF BALL

The ball will be spotted wherever the ball was at the time of the flag pull or the ball carrier left the field-of-play.

NO CONTACT / NO DOWN FIELD BLOCKING

There is no blocking or tackling permitted in the league. Players acting as offensive linemen may not use their hands when protecting the quarterback from defensive rushers. Offensive linemen can position their bodies at any particular angle in an attempt to direct the rushers to a particular area, but there is no contact permitted. Offensive linemen must have their hands at their sides or behind their backs when blocking to prevent their arms from extending. 

“Picks” are also NOT permitted at any time.

No downfield blocking/tackling is permitted. Illegal contact includes tripping, contact with the QB, any excessive contact by an opposing player and contact with an opposing player after a ball is tipped. Also note that rough play may result in an unsportsmanlike penalty. Anyone in violation of this rule is subject to penalty, suspension, and/or expulsion from the league.

CO-ED / GENDER PLAY REQUIREMENTS

The offense will be penalized if it fails to use a female as an “operative player” at least once within three consecutive downs. The penalty for running three consecutive plays without using a female as an “operative player” will be a five yard penalty, loss of down, and a female must be the “operative player” on the next play. For example, if a male player catches or runs the ball on a play in which a female must be the “operative player”, the offense will be penalized and must replay the gender requirement.

Note: The term “closed” or “forced gender” means that a female must be the “operative player”. The term “open” means that any player, male or female, is eligible to be the operative player.

A pass attempt must cross the line of scrimmage to count as an operative play.

An operative player is defined as a player who:

  • Is the intended receiver of a forward pass across the line of scrimmage. The pass does not have to be completed.
  • If a ball is tipped or under/overthrown, the play’s gender is determined by the last player who made an attempt to catch the ball.
  • Runs the ball as the primary runner (must cross the line of scrimmage)
  • Receives the snap as the QB and scrambles past the line of scrimmage or attempts a pass crosses the line of scrimmage.
  • Throws or catches a forward pass that is complete behind the line of scrimmage but the resulting run moves past the line of scrimmage.

An operative player is NOT defined as a player who:

  • Hands off the football to another player
  • Snaps the ball into play
  • Receives a handoff only to pass or handoff the ball to a male before crossing the line of scrimmage
  • Female who throws a lateral pass
  • Receives a lateral from another player and does not cross the line of scrimmage.

Examples:

  • A pass deflected by a male and caught by a female is a female “operative” play
  • If a female pitches the ball to a male behind the line of scrimmage, this will not result in a female “operative” play
  • If a male laterals the ball to a female past the line of scrimmage, this will not result in a female “operative” play
  • If a female throws a forward pass that does not cross the line of scrimmage, but is caught and gains positive yardage, that does count as a female operative play

Gender Play (Tipped Pass) Clarification

  • A pass that is deflected by a female, and caught by a male does not count as a female “operative” play
  • If this occurs on a “closed” play, the offense has the option of:
    • Accepting the play as an incomplete pass and having it count as a female play
    • Accepting a 5-yard penalty and replaying the down as a closed play
  • There is no gender requirement for extra points and punt plays.

FIRST DOWNS

Each team shall have four downs to earn a first down or score. First downs are achieved when a team crosses either of the 20 yard markers (20, 20) based on its original field position. Offensive teams may elect to punt on fourth downs. All punts are live and may be fielded after bouncing on the ground. However, if a receiving player muffs (touches) the ball and it hits the ground, the play is dead. If a team doesn't punt, fails to score, or earn a first down, the opposing team will obtain possession.

SCORING

The scoring shall be assigned as follows:

  • Touchdowns:
    • A Male touchdown is awarded 6 points
    • A Female touchdown is awarded 9-points in the following scenarios:
      • A female runs the ball from behind the line of scrimmage for the score
      • A male QB throws to a female receiver who scores
      • A pass that is tipped by a male and caught by a female will be awarded a 9 point female TD
      • A female returns an interception or punt for a score
      • A female QB throws to any receiver for the score (regardless of any pitches to a male)

Any lateral passes (pitches) involving a male player during any of the above situations will result in only 6 points being awarded, except when a female QB throws a forward pass.

All other touchdowns will be awarded 6 points.

  • Extra Point(s):
    • From the 5 yard line
      • 1-point for all normal conversions
      • 2-points will be awarded using the same scenarios listed above for the 9-point TD
    • From the 10 yard line
      • 2-point for all normal conversions
      • 3-points will be awarded using the same scenarios listed above for the 9-point TD
The defense may return an interception for two points on a two-point attempt.

FIELD GOALS

In the elite divisions only, teams may attempt field goals. Once a team has elected a field goal attempt, the Referee shall move the marker 10 yards toward the goal post (to account for playing on an 80 yard field).

  • Must be snapped a minimum of 7 yards back from the line of scrimmage to the holder.
  • The holder must be stationary and can stand or kneel to receive the snap, but must catch the ball in the air and place it on the ground for the kicker to kick.
  • The defense can only jump to block the FG, they are not allowed to rush or cross the line of scrimmage
  • Holders may not use a kicking tee/block or their foot/shoe to raise/hold the ball. The ball must be placed on the ground, and held with one finger (same as College/NFL)

A missed FG is not returnable in the co-ed league.

PASS RUSH

Once the line of scrimmage has been marked, the referee will walk off five paces in the direction the offense is going and place another marker. This “5 pace” marker is the “RUSH LINE”. Only defensive players that are behind this marker when the ball is snapped may cross the line of scrimmage to rush the QB. No players lined up within this “zone”, may rush the QB. If the QB pitches the ball or hands-off to another offensive player, any defensive player may cross the line of scrimmage, no matter where they were lined up before the snap. If the line of scrimmage is between the goal line and the five-yard line, the RUSH LINE will be the goal line. The rush line can never be placed inside the endzone.

CONTINUANCE OF PLAY

Play shall continue until:

  • Ball carrier has flag-belt pulled by an opponent (see flag specifics for the few exceptions/additions concerning flag pulling)
  • Ball carrier leaves the field of play
  • Ball carrier scores
  • Ball carrier’s knee touches the ground
  • Ball touches the ground

SPOT OF THE BALL

The ball will be spotted where the ball is at the time the ball carrier’s flag is pulled. If the ball crosses the plane of the goal line before the ball carrier’s flag has been pulled it will result in a touchdown (ball extension).

PUNTS

The offensive team must declare their intention to punt or election to play on every 4th down. The referee shall notify the defensive team of the election prior to the ball being made ready for play.

  • A punt must be declared and cannot be faked.
  • The receiving team may return a punt once it has hit the ground.
  • All punts are “free punts”. A team need not snap during a punt.
  • A dropped snap during a punt is not a fumble.
  • Punts must be kicked and cannot be thrown.
  • The kicking team may not cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.
  • Downfield blocking is not permitted.
  • The receiving team can line up be no closer than the 5-yard rush line and may not raise hands or jump to block a punt.
  • The punting team may down the punted ball if the receiving team makes no effort to gain the ball.
  • A punt into the end zone will be spotted at the 10-yard line–the punt is immediately ruled a touchback once the ball breaks the vertical plane of the goal line.
  • If a player drops the ball in the end zone, the ball is spotted at the 10-yard line and is not counted as a safety.

      TURNOVERS

      A change of possession (not after a score) can only occur due to downs or an interception. A fumble is not a turnover and the play is considered dead at the point of the fumble. A lateral may be intercepted and returned by the opposing team.

      FLAG GUARDING

      Flag guarding is not allowed. Flag guarding is defined as any action that is made with the arms, hands, or legs that prevents a player from being able to pull another player’s flag. A player engaging in flag guarding will be penalized. It is illegal to pull the flag of a player who does not have possession of the football. Throwing flag belts after making a pull is not allowed, and can be penalized as a personal foul.

      FLAG BELTS

      Flag belts must be fastened outside of all clothing with nothing obstructing them. If, during a play, any clothing obstructs the defense’s ability to grab a flag (shirt is hanging over the flag belt), then the player will be called down at the first instance that the defense had a chance to pull the flag. A ball carrier whose flag-belt falls off inadvertently during a play will be considered down upon a one-handed touch. However, if any player (besides the QB) gains possession of the ball without properly secured flags, then they will be down as soon as they touch/catch the ball. It is a penalty for a ball carrier to stiff-arm, charge into, or deliberately try to knock over a defensive player. In addition, a ball carrier may not dive (diving is defined as a player leaving their feet without returning to their feet) in an effort to gain extra yardage.

      INADVERTENT WHISTLES

      Should an inadvertent whistle get blown, the team in possession of the ball at the time of the whistle will have two options: take the result of the play with the ball declared “dead” at the spot where the whistle was blown, or replay the down from the original line of scrimmage. If an inadvertent whistle is blown during a pass play while the ball is in the air, the play will be declared “dead” and replayed from the original line of scrimmage.

      OVERTIME

      There will be no overtime during the regular season, the game will end in a tie. In the playoffs, overtime will mirror NCAA overtime, and will consist of each team having one offensive possession starting at the 20-yard line selected in a captains meeting (both offenses will go toward the same goal in overtime). The offensive team will have 4 untimed downs to score a touchdown (all regular penalties will apply during the overtime period). If a touchdown is scored the offensive team will have the option to go for a 1- or 2-point conversion (female scoring will be awarded in the same fashion as during regulation. See Scoring). If teams are tied after the 1st overtime period, the process will be repeated until a winner is determined. Starting with the 3rd overtime period, teams will be required to go for a 2-point conversion upon scoring a touchdown.

      PENALTIES & ENFORCEMENT

      OFFENSIVE FOULS

      YARDAGE

      PENALTY ASSESSMENT

      RESULT

      Flag Guarding

      5 Yards

      Spot Foul

      Next Down

      Offsides

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Downfield Blocking

      5 Yards

      Spot Foul

      Next Down

      False Start (*Dead Ball Foul)

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Gender Violation (Still Closed)

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Next Down

      Illegal Contact/Pick (Pre-Pass)

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Illegal Contact/Pick (Post-Pass)

      5 Yards

      Spot Foul

      Next Down

      Illegal Forward Pass

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Loss of Down

      Illegal Motion

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Illegal Participation

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Illegal Formation

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Offensive Pass Interference

      10 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Diving

      5 Yards

      Spot Foul

      Next Down

             

      DEFENSIVE FOULS

      YARDAGE

      PENALTY ASSESSMENT

      RESULT

      Illegal Rushing

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Offsides

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Illegal Contact

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Pass Interference

      10 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Auto 1st Down

      Roughing the Passer

      10 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Auto 1st Down

      Holding (on Run Plays)

      5 Yards

      End of Run

      Next Down

      Holding (on Pass Plays)

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

      Illegal Flag Pull

      5 Yards

      Spot Foul

      Next Down

      Illegal Stripping

      5 Yards

      End of Run

      Next Down

      Illegal Participation

      5 Yards

      Previous L.O.S.

      Replay Down

             

      GENERAL FOULS

      YARDAGE

      PENALTY ASSESSMENT

      RESULT

      Arguing w/ Official

      10 Yards

      End of Play

      Next Down

      Unsportsmanlike Conduct

      10 Yards

      End of Play

      Automatic 1st Down

      Defensive Excessive Contact / Rough Play

      10 Yards

      End of Play

      Auto 1st Down

      Offensive Excessive Contact / Rough Play

      10 Yards

      End of Play

      Loss of Down

      Penalty Clarifications

      • Down and distance to gain are determined after enforcing all live ball penalties
        • Example: On 4th down from the opponent's 24 yard line (4th and 4), player A1 advances the ball to the 15 yard line, but flag guards at the 18 yard line. The 5 yard penalty is assessed from the 18 yard line and the ball is spotted at the 23 yard line. Team A did not gain the zone line-to-gain, and thus turns the ball over on downs. It is Team B's ball, 1st down on the 23 yard line.
      • A penalty does not reset the gender play.

      Defensive Penalty Clarifications

      • Holding
        • Replay the down if the penalty occurs on 4th down or inside the 10-yard line
        • *Holding behind the LOS on any ball carrier who is eligible to pass clarification: 10 yard penalty from the previous LOS, replay the down. 
      • Illegal Contact is defined as:
        • Tripping
        • Contact with the QB
        • Any excessive contact by an opposing player (referee discretion)
        • Contact with an opposing player after a ball is tipped
        • Rough play may result in an unsportsmanlike penalty
      • Illegal Stripping = It is illegal to bat or strip a ball from a player’s hand.
      • A game cannot end on a defensive penalty even if time expires. One un-timed down will be required to complete the game.

      Offensive Penalty Clarifications

      • Illegal Contact is defined as:
        • Pushing Off
        • Any other excessive contact by an offensive player on a defensive player in the field of play

      Unsportsmanlike Conduct

      • Examples:
        • Any unsportsmanlike conduct (towards players, referees, league staff, coaches, sidelines, spectators) = 10 yards/Possible Ejection & Automatic 1st Down
        • Excessive Contact/Rough Play
      • If official determines that contact was initiated with intent to harm, the offending player will be ejected from the game. The player must leave the field of play immediately. If the player does not leave the field his/her team may be charged with a forfeit for the game regardless of score or time remaining. Any player ejected from a game may not play in any other games that day.
      • The ejected player may not play in future games without league approval.
      • An official may call a forfeit for unsportsmanlike conduct. Even if the game has ended, an official may call a forfeit.
      • The League has the authority to suspend and/or expel a player or team from the league and/or future game(s) at its discretion with no refund of monies for such acts.
      • Fighting: see Sportsmanship Policy

      Weather Impacted Games

      • If a game is stopped due to dangerous weather conditions prior to the beginning of the second half or prior to a previously designated point, the game will be replayed in its entirety. If a game is stopped thereafter, it will be considered a complete game and the score will stand. There is no requirement that each team have the same number of offensive series before a game is stopped.